Fowler wins dramatic Players
Rickie Fowler claimed the 2015 Players Championship title after downing Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass.
Heading into the week with just one PGA Tour title to his name, Fowler has for some time had to deal with suggestions that he’s overrated and not worthy of the hype that has surrounded him since he made his Tour debut in 2009. So belittled has Fowler been that he was recently voted the most overrated player on tour by his peers, an ignominious honour he shared with Ian Poulter.
However, with Fowler having first fired a final round 67, the joint low round of the day, and then edged a three-man playoff, the American’s critics are going to be eating a fair portion of humble pie.
A three-hole aggregate playoff system was introduced this year, and it was put into play immediately, with Fowler, Garcia and Kisner heading to the 16th, 17th and 18th.
The trio all parred the 16th, with Fowler and Kisner birding the par-3 17th to edge ahead. Garcia was unable to outdo his opponents on the 18th, slumping to a bogey while others registered pars, meaning that the two Americans headed back to the 17th to continue a sudden death playoff as darkness began to set in.
Playing off the tee with a wedge, Kisner got within 12 feet of the hole as his ball trickled past the pin. Fowler then stepped up a gear, firing in a beautiful tee shot to give himself a six footer for birdie. With Kisner missing his putt to the left, Fowler had a putt to win the Championship and he made no mistake.
Fowler had produced some spectacular golf to make it into the playoff. The final six holes at TPC Sawgrass have proven a tough task for golf’s best for many years, but it was child’s play for Fowler as he finished six-under over the last six, including a closing sequence of eagle-birdie-birdie.
The 26-year-old’s aggressive play was rewarded time and time again on the back nine. A 15-foot birdie at the 15th, a stunning second at the long 16th set up a tap-in for eagle, a seven-foot putt for birdie at 17 and a super 331-yard drive at the last to set up a 15-footer for another birdie at the last, were just some of the highlights Fowler produced.
It was Garcia who had set the pace for much of the day, shaking off a bogey at the first to birdie four of the next five holes. However, the Spaniard found the going tougher on the back nine. However, after a bogey at the 14th he rebounded strongly, birding the 16th before sinking a fantastic 45-foot putt for another birdie at the 17th. Garcia would have a 20-foot putt for the outright lead at the 18th, but he was unable to repeat the brilliance of the 17th.
Birdies at the 16th and 17th saw Kisner dash up the leaderboard, as he took the back nine in 33 as his round of 69 propelled him to 12-under.
For a time Ben Martin threatened to edge ahead, with three birdies from the 15th to 17th seeing the American rise to 12-under early on, but a bogey at the last would cost him a playoff berth.
Martin was joined on 11-under by Bill Haas, with second round leader Kevin Na and Rory Sabbatini of South Africa a further two shots back.
It was a day to forget for the field’s remaining superstars, with world number one Rory McIlroy finishing in a tie for eighth after his final round of 70 never really got going in the fashion required.
Tiger Woods had little to smile about as he rounded off his tournament with a 72, to finish tied 69th, his worst finish in the Players Championship..
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